WRAPUP 1-Obama touts S.Korea trade deal, looks for more

By Daniel Magnowski

* Deal lauded by Democrats, Republican, business groups

* Obama calls it model for deals to come

* Some dissent in Congress, S. Korean reaction less positive

By Patricia Zengerle and Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON, Dec 5 (BestGrowthStock) – President Barack Obama vowed
on Saturday to work with Republicans and Democrats to pass a
free-trade pact with South Korea that he said was a model for
future agreements he would seek in Asia and around the world.

U.S. and South Korean negotiators struck a deal on Friday
on the long-delayed pact, which was signed in 2007 but had not
been ratified for three years because of U.S. auto and beef
industry concerns.

The pact was an accomplishment for Obama, who faced an
embarrassing setback when negotiators failed to settle their
differences before he visited Seoul last month, but it was
greeted less positively in South Korea.

“The agreement we’re announcing today includes several
important improvements and achieves what I believe trade deals
must do. It’s a win-win for both our countries,” Obama told
reporters in Washington.

A day after the Labor Department reported U.S. unemployment
unexpectedly hit a seven-month high of 9.8 percent in
November, Obama said the pact would boost annual exports of
automobiles, agricultural products and other goods and
services by $11 billion and generate 70,000 additional jobs.

South Korean trade minister Kim Jong-hoon denied reports
in his country he had made concessions that were not
reciprocated.

“By accepting U.S. demands on the auto sector, South Korea
may be able to advance the time to raise market share in the
U.S. auto market,” he told reporters, citing growing local
production by South Korean carmakers in the United States.

The revised deal keeps the 2.5 percent U.S. tariff on
South Korean cars until the fifth year of implementation,
while South Korea will immediately halve its 8 percent tariff
on U.S. auto imports.

“Given the trend, having the 2.5 percent tariff for
another four years may have a limited impact on our auto
sales,” Kim said.

Obama said the agreement with South Korea showed the
United States was ready to finalize more trade pacts —
business leaders wish two other long-delayed deals, with
Panama and Colombia, would also get through Congress.

“I’m especially pleased that this agreement includes
groundbreaking protections for workers’ rights and for the
environment. In this sense, it’s an example of the kind of
fair trade agreement that I’ll continue to work for as
president, in Asia and around the world,” Obama said.

“This agreement also shows that the United States of
America is determined to lead and compete in our global
economy,” he added.

He also said the agreement shows the strength of
Washington’s alliance with Seoul. Tensions in the region
ratcheted up last month after North Korea attacked the small
southern island of Yeonpyeong, killing four people.

BUSINESS SUPPORT, SOME DOUBTS

Business leaders and analysts said free trade could be one
area of cooperation between Obama’s Democratic administration
and Republicans in Congress, who won a majority in the House
of Representatives in the Nov. 2 elections, amid voter
discontent over the sputtering economy and worries over the
U.S. deficit.

Obama said he looked forward to working with Congress and
leaders of both parties to approve the pact.

Both the U.S. House and Senate must approve the agreement,
and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he was
prepared to work with Obama to win approval. A range of
companies and industry groups have spoken out in support,
including the United Auto Workers union and Ford Motor Co.,
which welcomed the changes made to address their concerns
about market access provisions of the original deal. House
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, also praised
the deal.

South Korea’s Kim said the deal would take effect by the
start of 2012 after parliamentary approval.

South Korea-based Hyundai Motor , the world’s
fifth-largest carmaker along with affiliate Kia Motors
, was the only major carmaker to increase sales in
the battered U.S. market last year.

Despite progress on the auto issues, Senate Finance
Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said he was
“deeply disappointed” the deal did not address South Korea’s
remaining restriction on beef imports imposed in response to
discovery of several cases of mad cow disease in the U.S.
cattle herds a number of years ago.

Baucus, whose committee has jurisdiction over trade, said
he would reserve judgment while continuing to work with the
Obama administration.

Obama said the United States would continue to press for
“full access for U.S. beef to the Korean market.”

Obama has made increasing U.S. exports a focus of his
strategy for generating jobs.

“(The Korea pact) will contribute significantly to
achieving my goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next five
years. In fact, it’s estimated that today’s deal alone will
increase American economic output by more than our last nine
free trade agreements combined,” Obama said.

(Additional reporting by Kim Yeonhee in Seoul; Editing by
Daniel Magnowski)

WRAPUP 1-Obama touts S.Korea trade deal, looks for more